I have tip-toed around this topic before, never really wanting to say what I felt for fear that I might be “blacklisted” as a blogger. Yet the truth is the longer I don’t say just what I feel and I keep stuffing it down, the more it keeps oozing up like my muffin-top when I buy the wrong jeans.
In the past year, I have written the occasional post where I whine about blogging and wonder out loud whether or not I should just give it up. The truth is I don’t want to stop dumping my thoughts/blogging/writing, I enjoy it, and it’s brought me many things including wonderful friends. I have appeared on national TV, done a roundtable for a feminist publication that I have long admired and even appeared on the local NPR affiliate. I suspect none of these things would have been possible if this space didn’t exist since as much as I adore being a freelance columnist for The Portland Phoenix, the range of exposure there is limited.
That said after five years of blogging, I have a bone to pick with the blogging world. Yeah I admit I probably shouldn’t have fell for the okey doke but I did, so sue me. But hey, maybe I can stop some other soul from getting off course like I did.
Can we just be honest and state the obvious, with estimates as high as 4 million “mommy” bloggers in North America alone the reality is that the economics and ROI of blogging are rarely ever going to fall in your favor. Look, it’s like going to Vegas and thinking you are going to beat the house on the Blackjack table. You “might” get lucky but chances are you aren’t going to leave Vegas with more money than you started. Likewise if you start blogging and think you are going to be making consistent money at it, chances are…you aren’t. There, I said it.
I spent the first three years in this space toiling away with barely anyone reading this blog, and when I only had a few readers I didn’t have any expectations of anything other than a comment. To be honest, I often find myself wishing that things had never changed. At least back then when I wrote, I didn’t have expectations. I didn’t have my inbox filled with empty offers from people all wanting something from me and offering nothing in return except “exposure”. Yet life as we all know is a series of change. In the past two years, I have had so many near misses for paying work and so called opportunities that at times I have driven myself crazy with anticipation.
In the past couple of years I have found myself reading and listening to the social media “experts” and spending way too many hours with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram and basically sacrificing time better spent with family and friends because I started chasing this rather inane dream. I started plotting how I could get to the blog conferences after all; Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess met her agent at a blogging conference or so I was told. I am so ashamed to admit that last year when I got my first credit card in years; my first purchase was a one day ticket to last year’s Blog Her conference. Of course in the end, my day job got in the way so I truly threw my money away chasing a dream that mathematically doesn’t favor me.
I mean let’s take a minute to discuss the “conferences”, those babies aren’t cheap. This year’s Blog Her 13 is being held in my hometown. I figure from my neck of the woods a trip to Blog Her would set me back a good thousand bucks plus and for what? Opportunities to write about shitty ass products I most likely don’t really use. More swag than I need or even want? Sessions on branding and marketing? A chance to rub elbows with “the” stars of the blogging world? Back when I was chasing the dream before I realized what that would really look like, I would have done anything for one of these chances. For some people these are wonderful things, let me be clear about that, but for me, they are not.
Everyone needs a dream and if yours is to write about products and get some remuneration; go for it. Seriously, just do it as Nike used to say. (And probably stop reading this post too) Yet if growth for me means reviewing products and weaving the details of the XYZ product into posts while trying to sound natural as hell, I will pass on that. I think the sad truth is there are only going to be a certain number of high performing bloggers and while the blogging experts and networks get us all hyped up about the possibilities, they are often selling us a dream (and making plenty of money at our expense as we try to find out the so-called secrets of success) and we need to stop and discern what we truly want and need. We need to see if what they are selling is even feasible, does it better us long term? Lastly, is it realistic? Dreams are fine, we all need them but dreams at times need to be balanced against reality.
I can’t get back the time I spent striving to be what I am not but I can spend time being intentional about who and what I am. Sure, making money is great but this space isn’t going to be that place for me unless all of y’all have hit the lottery and are feeling good enough to leave something in the tip jar. Otherwise I better stick with my day job and what I do well and keep this as my fun space to play with my writing voice.